PAX East 2019: Streets of Rage 4 – First Impressions

It’s the year of retro titles getting sequels… does this please you? Does it make you wary? Read on to find out how we feel (and check out how we felt about Windjammers 2 at PAX East while you’re at it).

Twenty-five years ago, Streets of Rage 3 was released. That’s 1994. That’s older than a solid percentage of the attendees at PAX East. Understandably, fans of the original Streets of Rage series approached this new game’s demo with a blend of trepidation and hope. According to Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games, and Dotemu, the idea was to go back to the drawing board and give it a “same but updated” treatment—much like we’ve seen with Windjammers 2 this past weekend, in fact.

The gameplay, art, and music were completely redesigned and updated. The character models are entirely hand-drawn, giving a fresh look to a familiar setting. The characters themselves are the same ones fans loved from previous titles—Axel and Blaze, and they fall right back into their roles, cleaning up the streets (which are full of rage, as one would expect).

The demo team was tight-lipped on who else might return to the series and become playable, but for now, there’s a smoothness to the gameplay that makes this title more than just another nostalgia-bomb. The controls are tight and the special attacks are well-balanced (at least in what we saw). Executing partner combos are easy enough, but the balance is that there’s room for accidental friendly damage. The wisdom of keeping things so simple with a basic attack button and another for a special attack button might be questioned by those who are used to complex fighting side-scrollers, but this feels like the right choice.

There’s always a risk when it comes to bringing an old, fondly-remembered series back to life. Especially in the era of nostalgia and selling our childhoods back to us, get it wrong and you’re done for. But the team in charge of Streets of Rage 4 took their responsibility seriously and, at first glance anyway, seems to have done right by fans. It’s updated, yes, but there’s enough throwback in the look and gameplay (toss those enemies between each other! get juggling!) to evoke the familiar while also bringing the series into modern gaming.

Streets of Rage 4 releases later this year.


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Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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